The sales of well-known shopping sites including Sprucefield Retail Park helped Northern Ireland’s commercial property sector end 2019 in a better position than once anticipated, it has been claimed.
A report by commercial property agency CBRE highlighted that the investment market witnessed an increase in transaction volumes year-on-year. Almost £212m was invested over 32 separate transactions last year.
These significant investments includes Lisburn’s Sprucefield Retail Park which was purchased by NewRiver for £40m, and Crescent Link Retail Park in Derry / Londonderry which was bought by David Samuel Properties for £30m.
The development was on the market with Lotus Group, a business controlled by local developer Ciaran Murdock.
In Belfast’s Titanic Quarter, The Gateway Building was also purchased for over £34m by Citigroup.
According to CBRE, this strong end of year position has “once again proven” the resilience of the market.
Gavin Elliott, capital markets director at CBRE, said it was “encouraging to see higher investment volumes being recorded than first anticipated at the beginning of 2019”.
“With the UK likely to leave the EU on January 31, 2020, we believe that the unique position of Belfast as a pivot city between Dublin, London and Europe should begin to realise greater interest from real estate investors throughout 2020,” Mr Elliott added.
CBRE also highlighted that the office market take-up in Belfast also exceeded 2019 expectations.
Overall, take-up of 517,380 sq ft was secured over 64 transactions.
A major deal in the office market was Deloitte taking 80,000 sq ft at The Ewart at the former Ewart’s Warehouse on Bedford Street.
Elsewhere, Rapid7 signed up to 48,000 sq ft at Chichester House, while PwC took an additional 46,000 sq ft of accommodation at Merchant Square, on top of the 155,000 sq ft agreed last year.
CBRE director David Wright said: “Over the past number of years, strong occupier activity, particularly from the technology/FDI and creative industries sectors, has helped reinforce the resilience of our office market amidst the wider economic and political challenges that Northern Ireland has faced. “We are pleased that figures recorded in 2019 were up on the rolling five-year average, and with a number of large office requirements set to be announced,” Mr Wright added.
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